Art complex fosters community

Professor Valeria Rocchiccioli sketches a light box example for students in Art 104 (3D Design), Betsey Lupton and sophomore Maggie Fragel. Roccioccioli is a graduate student studying sculpture. She said "Every graduate student has their own studio and the new machines and supplies are amazing. All the machines are a lot safer." Marlena Skrobe//Photo Editor

Once scattered across three different areas of campus, art students can now paint, glass-blow and sculpt in one central location on Levante Avenue, near the Alumni Center. A new art complex, housed in a previously unoccupied building, was commemorated on March 29 with a donation from celebrity art instructor Connie Gordon.

“With such a raw space, we did not have many limitations,” said Lise Drost, chair of the Department of Art and Art History.

The new complex has two floors. On the first floor, there are indoor and outdoor workshops for glass-blowing, ceramics and sculpture. On the second floor, there are studios for painting and 2D design. The building also has an in-house library and new computers and printers with the UPrint service.

The ceramics and sculpture studios were previously located near the BankUnited Center (BUC) and Ponce Garage, and the painting studio was housed in the Rainbow Building, which is across the street from the new complex.

Digital photography and electronic media for the time being will remain in the L-1 Buildings by the Memorial Building.

According to Drost, housing most of the art forms in one building will aid in planning events and exhibitions. Drost also wants to create more interdisciplinary classes that combine the various art forms.

Junior Gabriela Varley, a studio art and motion pictures major, particularly likes the openness of the second floor painting studio’s windows.

“I love that I am on the second floor and can use such great lighting,” she said.

However, Varley, like other students and art professors, does miss the charm and appeal of the old studios in the Rainbow Building. She especially misses their paint-splattered floors and high ceilings.

“The last place felt like home,” Varley said. “Having to keep the floor clean feels like I am being censored.”

Associate professor of painting and drawing Brian Curtis also misses the ceilings but is glad that students can now visit each other and showcase their work in one space. He hopes that  students will find inspiration and experiment with different mediums.

“It has worked out nicely,” he said. “It has given art students an identity, to be integrated in one building.”

Gerdi Tsesarskaia, an adjunct instructor for ceramics, finds the new building’s “efficiency” important.

“I like the clearly defined and separated spaces, and that there is a library inside the building,” she said.

Tsesarskaia’s only qualms with the new building is that it is more distant from nature and lacks windows in the ceramics room, which the art buildings by the BUC once offered.

Tsesarskaia, however, hopes that future generations of professors and students will start to make the new location as “artsy” as the last ones.

“The potential is great,” she said. “Subsequent generations will make it livable.”